Marquette Rewind - Jim Boylan's Basketball Career Comes Full Circle
Jan. 8, 2010
By Dan McGrath, '72
Basketball has taken Jim Boylan around the world since he left Marquette in 1978. Now he has set up shop within a mile of the Milwaukee campus, as an assistant on Scott Skiles’ staff with the Milwaukee Bucks, who share the Bradley Center playing facility with the Golden Eagles.
“I’ve been in the NBA for 18 years, so I’m comfortable there,” Boylan said. “But I still love the college game, especially the spirit and the excitement.”
Boylan is friendly with Buzz Williams and his staff and attends as many Marquette games as his schedule permits.
“It’s really been nice to reconnect,” he said. “I see a lot of people I saw when I was playing, which means they’ve been buying tickets and supporting us 30, 40, 50 years in some cases. The enthusiasm is still there, no question.”
Boylan occupies a place of honor in Marquette annals, as a starting guard opposite Butch Lee on the 1977 national-championship team. He scored 14 points in the title-game victory over North Carolina and did a credible defensive job on Tar Heels All-American Phil Ford. Carolina forward Mike O’Koren, a freshman starter, was an old rival from Jersey City.
“I loved playing with Butch, and we had Gary Rosenberger coming off the bench to stretch the defense,” Boylan said. “Great memories.”
Boylan transferred to Marquette after two standout years at Assumption College, a NCAA Division II school in Massachusetts. He was eager for the challenge of tougher competition … and playing for Al McGuire.
“Being from Jersey City, I’d been around New York guys all my life, so I thought I knew what I was in for,” he said. “But I hadn’t been around many guys like Al. He was quite a character.”
That said, the Marquette experience was a factor in Boylan’s decision to go into coaching.
“Since I started playing in grammar school I was fortunate to be around people who loved the game and could really teach it,” he said. “That was certainly true at Marquette with Al and Hank Raymonds and Rick Majerus.”
After playing and coaching in Europe, Boylan returned to the States and the college game, as an assistant at Michigan State, and later as head coach at New Hampshire. His NBA resume includes stops in Cleveland, Vancouver, Atlanta, Phoenix and Chicago. He’s in his second year with the Bucks.
“We’ve got Michael Redd working his way back from knee surgery, and Brandon Jennings is so young he’s like a puppy,” he said. “But he’s brought some life back to the franchise.”
Boylan, 54, and his wife, Jane, have two daughters. These days he’s more appreciative of life’s simple pleasures after undergoing treatment for a cancerous tumor near his tongue over the summer.
“I feel great, and all the check-ups have been good, and I’m proceeding like it’s behind me,” he said. “After an experience like that, some things you worried about are not as important as you’d thought.
“Life is good.”
Dan McGrath will provide a series of men's basketball features exclusive to GoMarquette.com all season long. McGrath is sports coordinator of the Chicago News Cooperative and former sports editor of the Chicago Tribune. He is a proud 1972 graduate of Marquette University.